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  • How do you calculate the carbon footprint of a product?

    Discussion in 'The main mechanical design forum' started by brads, Nov 11, 2014.

    1. brads

      brads Active Member

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      I have been asked by my customer to advise what the carbon footprint of my product is. Unfortunately due to confidentiality I can’t say what the product is, but it includes sheet metal, plastic extrusions, cast iron and other manipulated materials. It will consume electricity throughout its life.

      I have been asked for this in terms of grams of C02 per unit.

      This seems like such a vague question to me and I have no idea where to start.

      Any suggestions?
       
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    3. RobbieG

      RobbieG New Member

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      Are they asking for this in relation to the operation of the product or the footprint of a newly delivered product? I have worked with customers before who insist on audit trails of material origin and reclamation of delivery materials in order to reduce the carbon footprint of a product at delivery. Material suppliers can usually help with some figures for that type of thing.

      If it is the operation they are worried about can you not do a calculation of how much electricity it will use and figure out how much carbon per KW or similar?
       
    4. brads

      brads Active Member

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      Thanks for your reply.

      They wanted it in relation to complete product life cycle. Build (inc parts, assembly and delivery), installation, product operation for specified life span, decommissioning and recycling.

      For the newly delivered product I could ask my suppliers for this information for all the parts, although I have asked other questions like this in the past and not had much luck. Not to mention I need to ask this of 50 suppliers each of which supply multiple parts.

      I have no idea where to start with the carbon footprint of my assembly, programming, testing packing etc. I have already calculated the carbon footprint of my building for one of my ISO certificates, but it is almost impossible to say how much of that is used on this product line. I could have really rough guess. However the majority of the build is carried out by hand. What is the carbon footprint of an assembly worker? I have one guy who produces so much hot air I am worried it will send the carbon footprint off the cart!

      I can fairly accurately estimate electricity consumption of the product per year. It varies dependant on customer use but I believe I can very accurately predict how the ‘typical’ customer will use the product.

      I can only provide these figures ex works, as this product need to be installed at the customers site. The installation will be carried out by a third party whom I have no contact with. Therefore there will be another stage in the process before power up which I have no control over.

      Decommissioning and recycling. What’s the carbon footprint of a skip?
       
    5. lorel

      lorel New Member

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      why should they care? Carbon footprint starts at the stone/metal quary to the final spray paint of the product. Why are they asking?
       
    6. brads

      brads Active Member

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      I believe my customer can get a subsidy for using products with a lower carbon foot print.
       
    7. Nicolas040

      Nicolas040 New Member

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      Wikipedia might have the right answer regarding carbon footprint calculation:

      "The total carbon footprint cannot be calculated because of the large amount of data required and the fact that carbon dioxide can be produced by natural occurrences."

      For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_footprint
       
    8. thebestjake

      thebestjake Member

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      The problem with engineers is we are concerned with ”accuracy" and ”correctness” I would guess there has to be a formula for calculating the carbon foot print. Since it is so open ended I bet you could get the carbon footprint to be just about what ever you wanted them to be.

      If they get a subsidy that agency should have a guide.
       
    9. brads

      brads Active Member

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      Yea, I have now been given a guide and it picks out one or two minor aspects of the product and basis it on those items, so it is no way the total carbon foot print as I was first led to believe.
       

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